The politics of higher education policy in Mexico, 1970-1976

Morgan, Jane Elizabeth (1981) The politics of higher education policy in Mexico, 1970-1976. PhD thesis, University of Glasgow.

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Abstract

This thesis examines how far and in what manner political considerations determined the nature of higher education policy in Mexico during the Presidency of Luis Echeverria. Between 1970 and 1976 the provision of places in higher education was doubled. This represented a significant expenditure on a type of education only pursued by a small minority while at the same time substantial action was still needed to achieve universal primary education. It might seem that such a pattern of investment would be explained by a developing country's need for highly skilled manpower. However, close examination shows that such a view is not plausible. By 1970, in Mexico as in many advanced industrialised nations, those leaving higher education increasingly found themselves underemployed and sometimes unemployed. Investment in education was therefore not cost-effective. This makes unacceptable any explanation of continued expansion in terms of its economic productivity. It is necessary to look elsewhere for explanations of the character of education policy between 1970 and 1976. Education policy is surveyed from the beginnings of state provision in order to assess what considerations have determined the shape of educational provision in the past. It is shown how the objectives and interests of politically influential groups have directed education policy in ways not wholly consistent with the demands of economic growth and cost-effectiveness. While in the 1920's and 1930's government attention focused to a considerable degree on the rural population and on technical education for the growing urban masses, subsequent political developments saw the weakening of worker and peasant groups and the emergence of new interests which have continued to influence educational provision until today. With the development of an industrial capitalist economy not only did the industrial workforce grow but so too did the number of white collar employees whose work required previous education. This group formed a 'new middle class'. Government education policy began to focus on urban areas where such work was concentrated and on the secondary and higher education needed by office, managerial and professional workers. But this emphasis was not only occasioned by economic need but by the demands for education exerted by those who aspired to white collar positions. Competition for jobs encouraged students to pursue more qualifications. By the 1960's government investment in education was supporting a process of qualification escalation which was not matched by manpower requirements. An educational provision resulted which was both uneconomic and undemocratic. During his electoral campaign Luis Echeverria promised to introduce a thoroughgoing reform of education, a Reforma Educativa , once in power. It is shown how the political realities of the period meant that it was unlikely that such action would be primarily directed at either improving the cost-effectiveness of the education system or at producing a more egalitarian participation in education. Rather, the government found it politically necessary to provide more higher education. The 1960's had seen the appearance of growing discontent amongst middle class groups, occasioned by both a reduction in opportunities for economic improvement and disillusion with a political system which allowed little scope for independent action in the protection of group interests. Mexican governments needed to both improve their control of, and win the support of, middle class groups, as was most clearly shown by events surrounding the student movement of 1968. Education policy became a vital element in the achievement of such ends. An improved provision of higher education increased apparent opportunities for achieving social mobility while the control of student politics within universities removed a potentially important catalyst of political opposition. It is shown how educational planning in the 1970's took account of the political context into which policy would be implemented, rather than as in the 1960's concentrating almost exclusively on the economic role of education. The last two chapters consider in some detail the education policy of the Echeverria government. Educational provision is examined at a national level demonstrating the relative priorities accorded to different types and levels of education.

Item Type: Thesis (PhD)
Qualification Level: Doctoral
Additional Information: Adviser: David Stansfield
Keywords: Education policy, Higher education, Higher education administration
Date of Award: 1981
Depositing User: Enlighten Team
Unique ID: glathesis:1981-72596
Copyright: Copyright of this thesis is held by the author.
Date Deposited: 11 Jun 2019 11:06
Last Modified: 11 Jun 2019 11:06
URI: http://theses.gla.ac.uk/id/eprint/72596

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